In Kentucky, the legal limit is 0.08%. This applies to a person’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). It starts out at 0.00, but it can climb fairly quickly. It may take people only a few drinks to reach 0.08%. If they hit this level on a breath test or a blood test administered by the police department, it could be justification for an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI).
But this limit does not actually apply to all drivers in Kentucky. It does apply to most of them, but underage drivers have their own limit. For them, their BAC cannot exceed 0.02%. This is so low that drinking any amount of alcohol could potentially get someone to this point. A 16-year-old who has half of a drink may be over the legal limit, even though they don’t feel intoxicated.
Why is the law set up this way?
Most states have laws like this, and they’re often called zero-tolerance laws. The basis of the idea is that those who are under 21 years old should never have any alcohol in their system. They are too young to purchase and consume those substances. Therefore, if any alcohol is detected, they can be charged with a DUI. It is very clear that they have already broken the law by drinking in the first place.
Of course, this can create some problems. What if an underage driver was given a spiked drink and they didn’t know it? It is highly unlikely that they would reach 0.08% after a single drink, but they would still register a positive result if they got pulled over and were given a test. That driver could theoretically be just as surprised as anyone else to find out that they were over the legal limit for their age group.
It is important for drivers to understand exactly what limits apply to them. But it’s also crucial for those who have been arrested to know what legal options they have moving forward.